A bill which would establish new penalties for drunken boating has cleared another statehouse hurdle. The Senate approved the bill last night, but made minor changes which must be approved the House before the bill can go to Governor Vilsack. If the bill becomes law, first-time drunken boaters would end up in jail for 48 hours and be fined a thousand bucks. Senator Matt McCoy, a democrat from Des Moines, worked closely with Bill Saunders, whose wife Donna was killed last summer in a drunken boating accident on Saylorville Reservoir. He says boats are getting faster and more powerful and it isn’t asking too much to have people operate them while they are under the legal alcohol limit. Senator Elaine Szymoniak, a democrat from Des Moines, said it was time to crack down on drunken boaters. She says it’s tragic that death after death has to occur before they get serious about making a change.But Senator Jack Rife, a republican from Durant, said the bill was an over-zealous reaction to a high-profile accident. He says every time the legislature passes a bill it moves more toward a “police state”.Rife says a tragedy spurred the bill, but the legislature has to serve everyone in the state, not just a particular victim.Rife was the only Senator to speak against the bill. He says the bill goes to far and there’s not a lot of “political courage” once in a while because legislators worry about the election.The bill passed on a 48 to zero vote. Rife wasn’t present when votes were cast.
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